War Memorials were an important element of nation building, for the invention of traditions, and the establishment of historical traditions. Especially nationalist remembrance in the late 19th century and the memory of the First World War stimulated a memorial boom in the period which the present book is focusing on.
The remembrance of war is nothing particularly new in history, since victories in decisive battles had been of interest since ancient times. However, the age of nationalism and the First World War triggered a new level of war remembrance that was expressed in countless memorials all over the world. The present volume presents the research of international specialists from different disciplines within the Humanities, whose research is dealing with the role of war memorials for the remembrance of conflicts like the First World War and their perceptions within the analyzed societies. It will be shown how memorials – in several different chronological and geographical contexts – were used to remember the dead, remind the survivors, and warn the descendants.
With the end of the Second World War, all its violence, war crimes, and sufferings as well as the atomic threat of the Cold War period, societies began to gradually remember wars in a different way. The glorious or honorable element of the age of nationalism was transformed into a rather dunning one, while peace movements demanded an end of war itself.
To analyze these changes and to show how war was remembered after the end of the Second World War, the present volume assembles the work of international specialists who deal with this particular question from different national and international perspectives. The contributions analyze the role of soldiers, perpetrators, and victims of different conflicts, including the Second World War. They show which motivational settings led to the erection of war memorials reflecting the values and historical traditions of the second half of the 20th and the 21st centuries. Thus, this interdisciplinary volume explores how war is commemorated and how its actors and victims are perceived around the globe.